By Robert Cyran
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) July 19 2019 : A new app kerfuffle shows that fun still trumps privacy concerns. Consumers love FaceApp’s filter for making selfies look older or sexier, but its Russian ownership has suddenly sparked worries about potential data misuse.
Yet the app isn’t new, and people have been posting their images on social media for years. It’s past time for regulators to set some boundaries.
It’s a pattern that has grown increasingly familiar ever since the late Apple boss Steve Jobs put cameras on smartphones and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook turned people onto social media.
The only thing that changes is the volume – app downloads grow, users surrender more privacy, and experts issue shriller warnings.
Companies and consumers can’t be counted on to break this cycle. The financial incentives are too strong for firms to forswear data collection.
It’s unrealistic to expect the average person to give informed consent to every lengthy user agreement.
Regulators need real sticks to ensure better behavior by companies, while rules like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation can give consumers better control of their data.
Such measures would offer the best assurance that a silly app is only that.